Valve released Portal 2 over a decade ago, but there’s always something new to play for it. Portal 2 map makers can easily and quickly create puzzles from within the game, and that’s resulted in more maps than are humanely possible to play in several lifetimes. I tried. I’ve been reincarnated three times and only made it through one tenth of my list.
Something has to be done. So I made a smaller list of the best mods that I know are worth playing. Then I cut it down some more, because RPS ran out of RAM. Seriously, there’s far too much good stuff to play. But you have to make a start somewhere. So let’s do that here.
The best Portal 2 mods
As mentioned above, there are no doubt hundreds more great Portal 2 mods out there, but the ones listed below are our personally curated cream of the crop. You can either click the individual links to go straight to the mod question, or just carry on reading the whole list.
- Portal Reloaded
- Thinking With Time Machine
- Aperture Tag
- Portal Stories: Mel
- The Unreal Chamber 1-4
- Figment 1-2
- Excellent Partnership
- Gelocity Stages 1-3
How to mod Portal 2
All the mods here are available via Steam. Some mods have their own store page, where you’ll install the game as you would any other game on Steam. This means it’ll launch on its own, though you do have to own Portal 2. Some don’t even need the game installed. Madness!
The rest are installed via Portal 2’s Steam Workshop. All you need to do is subscribe to the mod on its workshop page, and it’ll be available under the Community Test Chambers menu in-game.
Portal Reloaded by PORTANIS
As if thinking with Portals wasn’t hard enough, Portal Reloaded makes it more complicated by adding in time travel, letting you step 20 years into the future to solve puzzles. A new, third portal, is added to gun. It lets you switch between the present version of the level, and a far future version where the decay and rot has changed the layout. Moving between the two levels will let you access areas unavailable between one and the other.
Time moves in one direction. Moving objects in the present will change their position in the future. You can bring future objects back into the present, so they exist in the same map as their past self. It opens the game up. Glass walls in the present could be broken in the future, letting you portal into different areas across space and time. The same cube can be pressing two different buttons in the present. There are 25 levels of Valve-quality puzzling, and the new mechanic never outlives itself.Download Portal Reloaded
Thinking With Time Machine by Stridemann
Thinking With Time Machines is another time travel test series. This one lets you record your own movements, then solve puzzles as that recording plays out in the level.
In simple terms: say you have a button that opens a door when the player stands on it, and closes when you move away from it. You can record yourself running and standing on the button. When you replay that level, your clone will perform that action, and you can walk through the door your past self is now keeping open.
Every move you make is replayed. So you can crouch down in a level and then stand on your own head to reach a higher area. You can pick up cubes to be dropped down a shaft, which would be lost forever, but you can then run to the bottom of the shaft and replay it, grabbing a cube before it’s lost. It’s co-op without a friend.Download Thinking With Time Machine
Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Testing Initiative by Aperture Tag Team
Portal 2’s gel mechanic is famously inspired by Tag: The Power of Paint, a student game that used a paintgun to create paths in levels. This mod is also inspired by that game, and creates puzzles using just the gels.
The player can now shoot the Repulsion and Propulsion Gels instead of portals, which creates a very parkour puzzle set. You’ll spend a lot of time bouncing off surfaces, flying over massive gaps. There are other puzzle elements from the base game; cubes and lasers pop up, and portals appear via buttons, but it’s all about how work with gels.Download Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Testing Initiative
Portal Stories: Mel by Prism Game Studios Ltd
A lot of Portal 2 mods try to bring in their own ideas regarding the mechanics. Portal Stories: Mel is an attempt at making a Valve-quality campaign without adding new mechanics. Mel finds herself stuck in an Aperture Science salt mine full of tests.
Mechanically, it’s everything you’ve encountered, just more of it. The puzzles are logic-based, and you’ll have to be a Portal veteran to get through them all without a walkthrough. With a huge amount of custom content, it’s an impressively made campaign of more Portal. More-tal, if you will.Download Portal Stories: Mel
The Unreal Chamber 1-4 by Enderlux
In the base game, you can see what you’re doing and what needs to be done. In the Unreal Chamber, there are rooms within rooms, impossible corridors, and magic windows. It uses static portals, both hidden and contained within frames, to create non-Euclidean test chambers and demands you escape from them. It’s wonderful.
Chamber 1 is a series of corridors that simply change when you’re not looking. It’s trippy, but not hard. You’ll feel confident and smart when you complete the second chamber, where a frame in the centre of the level lets you move between several nested rooms. You move between them all, leaving a trail of portals and switches that are all tracked by glowing glyphs on the floor.
In the third chamber, the frame becomes a windowed looking glass that you press your nose up against to travel into the room behind it. All you need to do is turn around, and you’ll be in a new room, once again following a trail of endlessly engaging and clever challenges. It’s pretty tough. Then chamber four takes you on a ride that I don’t really want to spoil.Download The Unreal Chamber 1-4
Figment 1-2 by Kylox
Inspired by Antichamber, the pair of Figment maps are probably the biggest departure from base Portal 2 on this list.
The stark black and white maps strip almost everything away from the game, leaving you to maneuver through a maze without any obvious portals. The trick is they’re really everywhere, you just can’t see nor control them. The impossible geometry the maps build aren’t as clear as The Unreal Chamber series, but they’re a good follow-up to show just how far people can take the process. Go on, get lost.
Excellent Partnership by Wildgoosespeeder
Just a well-made series of co-op maps for the game. If the game’s co-op campaign has you wanting more, Excellent Partnership is worth playing through.
Each new level has a central theme for the puzzle, so you’re not just repeating steps as you work through each one. There’s nothing new in terms of mechanics or art, just some excellently designed maps to explore. The video below shows the steps it takes to get past the first.Download Excellent Partnership
Gelocity Stages 1-3 by Radix
A collection of co-op maps based on the gels, but with a twist. Gelocity maps are races, with a fair amount of puzzling to solve along the way.
It’s a simple premise: the levels are covered in Propulsion Gel, with some dots of Repulsion Gel in strategic points. As you fire through each track, you can use portals to pass the usually impossible jumps, change direction, and even cut corners. They are incredibly addictive and smartly designed. The faith plates and portal surfaces in Stage 3 are brilliantly placed. Each co-op map also has a time trial version where you can compete against your own time. I looped around each one multiple times, desperately trying to beat my own score.Download Gelocity Stages 1-3
Confinement by Camerson1313
It would be good to start the co-op series of Confinement maps with a friend who forgives everything you do, or perhaps an enemy who has no-one else to play with. Anything in between and you’re likely to fall out.
The basic premise of this staggering series of 52 maps is that one player moves while the other waits for a turn, with each swapping over a number of times during the level. It changes the dynamic a lot, forcing each player, who can only fire a single portal, to work out and do their part while the other gives suggestions, but can’t do any of the work until it’s their turn. It’s brutal, but rewarding. Just like all relationships.